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Spanish Colonial Soldiers in New Mexico

Weapons and Equipment of the Presidial Soldier

Shown above, Spanish presidial soldiers under Indian attack carried the arms and equipment specified in the Royal Regulations of 1772.

For offense the soldiers carried a lance, a sword, two pistols, and a carbine.

The leather jacket, or cuera, and the leather shield, or adarga, were used to protect the soldiers against Indian arrows.

Traditionally, the Presidial soldiers were split into two categories: the traditional soldado de cuera and their mounted counterparts, the troopa ligera (lit."

light troops"). The troopa ligera, as the name implies, traveled light and rode without the cuera. 

For obvious and practical reasons, the Flying Companies were not soldados de cuerra; but were mobile companies, able to cover vast areas behind the presidial line. They in fact, supported the operation of the local presidial company as in the case of Alamo de Parras who supported the Bejar Presidio. 

The cuera continued as part of the uniform through the early 1800's. Though one example of artwork from that period depicts a Californian presidial soldier wearing a cuera.


The Santa Fe presidio Real Caballada in the Eighteenth Century

Maintaining the Santa Fe presidio horse herd, (real caballada) from the marauding Indians was a challenge for the eighteenth century New Mexico governors and military officers.  Without horses, the presidio soldiers and the auxiliary Pueblo Indians were unable to defend themselves from or make counter-attacks upon the Apaches of various kinds, Utes, Navajos, and especially the Comanches.

After the Pueblo Revolt, these tribes had become expert horseman, raiding the Spanish and the settled Indians successfully.  This eighteenth century document shows that the presidio officers, and governor, (Governor Olavíde de Micheleña), were very aware of the need for more and better maintained horses. 

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